Pearl and I left Leo over with the grandmothers and then hurried home via the charity shop. The charity shop came up trumps again and I spent £3.70 I shouldn't have! For this we got:
A complete box of original octons (the 1970s transluscent ones)
An almost complete set of a construction toy called Mottix
An old Waddingtons puzzle thing, where you have to make a rectangle out of the pieces, without the different colours touching. It took Dani about 1 minute – grrr!
An unused Tarquin book of press out and create paper jewelry.
After a speedy lunch Pearl and I started to make a knitting frame – as described in the library book about string. I was very impressed by Pearl's dedication and guts – measuring, marking, sawing and hammering. She is very good at using her mitre saw and she clearly loves this kind of project. She was a bit anxious about fingers getting hit with the hammer so I got each nail started and she did the final few whacks on each one. We had to stop after we'd made the basic frame, as we found we didn't have the right kind of nails to finish it. Luckily, one of the grandmothers does upholstery and was able to supply some pins that will work. We'll post a picture when it's finished. I hope it works!
Leo arrived home with a big bag full of cardboard creations. He and my mum had hurried up the steep hill laden down with all this. My mum is waiting to find out if her shoulder will need surgery, after a nasty break and dislocation, so I'm not sure if she should be lugging robots about!
In the evening Dani went out to a Woodcraft folk training session and the kids and I had to ration out the bedtime story reading.
Pearl went downstairs alone first thing as she wanted to write a poem. She spent a good hour on it, making rough notes and then finally coming back with a neat version, written with her cartridge pen.
Untitled poem by Pearl
at 7 o'clock in the morning,
a farmer was drinking his tea,
he went to see his uncle,
but then got stung by a bee!
he went to feed his cows and chickens,
he went home to feed his horses,
the chickens weren't at home you see,
they'd been captured by strange forces!
the forces are not here today,
the forces are on holiday,
they are in the caribean,
and they are very very mean!
Needless to say I love this poem – it is very Pearlie.
Meanwhile, Leo was drawing a beautiful big picture of 'My Dragon World' on lining paper. Leo is not very interested in exploring other materials, though we have watercolours, pencils, pastels and chalks, he always wants pens. So I offered him a bigger bit of paper and he seemed to enjoy it.
I went off to work for the afternoon and evening.
Back at home Dani and Leo decided to look at their hair with our microscope. Apparently it was very shiny, like wire, and not really the colour that it appears to be on their heads. They then looked at grains of salt, which just looked like big grains of salt! Then Dani took the kids to capoeira, with their local cousins S and D. It was good for a while but Pearl accidently kicked her cousin S in the neck, so they didn't bother staying for the second hour.
Pearl went to her bigger kids home ed group, where there was some discussion of a home ed awareness event that is being planned at a local, alternative café and bookshop. Then she went over to her grandmothers' for some cards and French.
After a fairly slow start to the morning (a lurking migraine…) I went off to work and Dani and Leo looked at more things with the microscope – a tissue, a silk scarf, a piece of banana, a bit of red pepper and a drop of orange juice. After this they did an experiment that someone posted on one of the home ed lists. They used fizzy fanta, vegetable oil, food colouring and salt and saw various things: the food colouring doesn't colour the oil, the oil and water separate, and the salt realeases a lot of carbon dioxide from the fizzy drink to make an 'eruption'.
Leo went, with his aunt, to collect his cousin B (6) from school. Then he went back to B's house to play. Once Pearl had arrived back from the grandmothers' house she and Dani went round and played at B's house too. The kids had tea there and then came home and watched tv.
When I got home from work Dani I had a long talk about maths – late into the night. My insecurity about maths occasionally nags at me and I wonder if we are offering Pearlie the right things, or in the right way. Because Pearl has such a facility with number I worry that I just don't understand enough to be useful to her. Dani was a great help and we read a lot at this interesting site www.sandradodd.com/math and I felt better.
A workbooks aside
Part of my anxiety about maths was about my own tendency to offer Pearlie workbook activities that I can see are pretty crap – just because I doubt my own ability to engage in more creative mathematical activities. In general I am getting less and less tolerant of workbooks. I don't object to puzzles, diversions that are there for you to exercise your brain, like crosswords, kakuro and so on. But I find that most workbooks are really tests, either in disguise or not. We never buy the 'literacy' or 'english' ones as I always turn a page or two and find myself despairing over the pointlessness of the exercises. I feel confident enough with reading and writing to know that the kids don't need anything like that. Comprehension exercises are my pet hate. I remember junior school English lessons that included hours of these things and I was always utterly mystified by them. I would do them, get all ticks and v.g. but never understood why on earth they would give me something to read and then ask me what it said – with the piece of writing there in front of me! I also despair at the things that ask you to re-tell a beautiful piece of writing in your own clunky prose. If s/he said it so well then let's just leave it there! The books that 'go with' wonderful children's fiction tend to have this kind of thing in them. Anyway, I guess we'll always have some workbooks around, but I do think they tend to make heavy weather of nothing much in the most tedious way possible.
Dani went off to work and the kids and I watched 'Building the Impossible' in which a group of people made a giant roman catapult. I love these kind of programmes because I enjoy watching the people – their excitement and enthusiasm for the project, and their camaraderie and sense of common purpose. Pearl and Leo liked the catapult. When this was over we set off to a home ed group that we go to sometimes. The group was good – busy and buzzing and we met some new people. I chatted and the kids played chasing games and air hockey. Leo and I were tired – Leo because he keeps staying up late reading The Secret Country, and me because I had awful nightmares last night – probably related to the migraine I have been determinedly not having. My dream last night was so tiring because in it Dani was dead and I was wailing and sobbing! I don't think I was making any noise IRL but somehow it still tired me out.
This afternoon the kids played with duplo (Leo) and Brio train set (P) and helped me here and there while I bathed Bunny and Hank. The piggies tolerated it and I gave them radical haircuts to make the grooming easier.
Dani had to go to another Woodcraft meeting tonight – after a long rant by me on how over-committed we are getting! We just don't get enough family time at the moment, what with work for both of us, and the various groups we are involved in. This week has included two nights when I worked until 8pm and two when Dani had to go out to meetings. This weekend I will be working both Saturday and Sunday, and then we're off into the next week… When we get a break it's great – but three month stretches of our current routine are pretty tiring. We need to put regular family time into our timetable. It really makes me laugh to think that people worry that home educating families are insular and their children don't socialise.